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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gallo Pinto: Costa Rican Rice and Beans


My husband and I celebrated our honeymoon in Costa Rica almost seven years ago. I saw this as a minor moral victory because we take most of our vacations in German-speaking countries, which, although beautiful, isn't really known for its tropical feel or warm beaches. I am from California, and beaches are in my blood. So when we settled on Costa Rica for our honeymoon, I did a little dance inside.

One of the hotels we stayed at on the west coast served the national dish, Gallo Pinto, every morning for breakfast with a side of scrambled eggs and delicious tropical fruit. I bought a small cookbook just for the Gallo Pinto recipe and was not disappointed. I have made adjustments over the years and make this whenever I get the chance. It's inexpensive to make, but delicious and filling. One note: it would seem that it wouldn't matter about how old the rice is, but "day-old rice" really does taste better in this dish than fresh rice.

Gallo Pinto

3 slices of bacon, cut into matchsticks
1 Tbl olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 can black beans (or ~2 cups freshly cooked black beans)
2-3 cups day-old rice
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce, plus more to taste
1 Tbl hot sauce
2 Tbl chopped cilantro
salt
pepper

Fry the bacon in a large pan until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside.

Add enough olive oil to the bacon grease to make about two tablespoons of oil. Sauté the green pepper and onion until the onion starts to soften. Add the can of black beans, including the liquid, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture comes together and is warmed through. Add cilantro and bacon. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm alone or with scrambled eggs.


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